Obituary for Cyril Mango
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Cyril Alexander Mango on February 8, 2021. Born in Constantinople in 1928, Cyril Mango was educated at the University of St. Andrews, M.A. in 1949, and earned his doctorate in History from the University of Paris in 1953.
He taught at King's College London where he held the Chair of Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature from 1963 to 1968, and was Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at the University of Oxford from 1973 to 1995. Prior to his teaching career in the U.K., he was affiliated with Dumbarton Oaks, the Harvard Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, D.C. At Dumbarton Oaks, Cyril Mango was a Junior Fellow (1951–1953), Fellow (1953–1954), and Research Associate (1954–1955) of Byzantine Studies, Instructor in Byzantine Archaeology (1955–1958), Lecturer in Byzantine Archaeology (1958–1962), Associate Professor of Byzantine Archaeology (1962–1963), Executive Editor of Dumbarton Oaks Publications (1958–1963), member of the Board of Scholars for Byzantine Studies (1967–1972), and member of the research staff (1972–1973). His scholarly outlook was key for many research projects undertaken during this period. The "Corpus of Dated Byzantine Inscriptions of Constantinople, Bithynia, and Eastern Thrace " begun by Prof. Mango with Ihor Sevcenko in 1978 is being completed by Anne McCabe, under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford and the International Association of Byzantine Studies, in the framework of the Inscriptiones Graecae Aevi Byzantinae project. Cyril Mango was also co-director of the Christian Monuments in Turkish Mesopotamia Project (1982–1990), and director of the Cathedral of Nisibis Project (1990–1991). He played a vital role as editor of The Oxford History of Byzantium (2002).
Professor Mango was a giant in Byzantine studies. His numerous studies defined our knowledge of the history, art, and architecture of the Byzantine Empire. From his first book, the groundbreaking The Brazen House. A Study of the Vestibule of the Imperial Palace of Constantinople (1959), he set the ground for a masterful and innovative use of a wealth of sources – textual, archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic, and historical – in order to reconstruct major monuments of Constantinople and explore central questions in the field. His erudition and unique analysis of the material have defined the study of Byzantine Constantinople and its monuments with books like the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul (1962), Le développement urbain de Constantinople (IVe - VIIe siècles) (1985), and multiple articles collected in Studies on Constantinople (1993). Two more books are important to note: Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (1980), and Byzantium and its Image: history and culture of the Byzantine Empire and its heritage (1984). A magnum opus on the urban development of Constantinople is being prepared for publication by Jonathan Bardill and will be published by Oxford University Press.
A polymath and a polyglot, Cyril Mango was keen to share his knowledge with his students and fellow scholars but also with the wider public. His books The Art of Byzantine Empire (1972), a handbook of primary sources in translation and his Byzantine Architecture (1976) were foundational textbooks for more than one generation of Byzantinists. He also published books for a broader public, such as Hagia Sophia: A Vision for Empires (1997); text by Cyril Mango, photographs by Ahmet Ertuğ, Chora: The Scroll of Heaven (2000); text by Cyril Mango, photographs by Ahmet Ertuğ, The Treasures of Turkey: The earliest civilizations of Anatolia Byzantium the Islamic Period. Cyril Mango, Ekrem Akurgal, and Richard Ettinghausen (1966), Editions d'Art Albert Skira, Geneva.
Cyril Mango gave the 2008 Walton lecture at the Gennadius Library entitled “Imagining Constantinople,” which was followed by a symposium in honor of his 80th birthday (May 7, 2008) entitled “Byzantine Athens: Monuments, Excavations, Inscriptions.” His connection to the Gennadius Library will continue long into the future, as he recently donated the rich holdings of his personal library to the Gennadius. Cyril Mango's gift and his prolific scholarship will inspire students and scholars for decades to come.